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[Page 316]

[photos:] Shimon Kravetz, may G-d avenge his blood! The second photo, from right: Rachel Kravetz, Rivka Lubashevsky, Rivka Rosenzweig, Sarah Lev, Epstein (Yitzchak's) and Eidel Epstein in 1939. Besides Rachel and Rivka everybody perished. May G-d avenge their blood!

found a pit full of potatoes that we gradually took over to our trees, and we were able to live on the potatoes for a while. Afterwards we started getting hungry again. Our limbs became swollen from hunger and cold, and our bodies were covered with wounds that hurt terribly, and some of the Jews who were with us in the pits died from cold and exposure.

        Our brother Shimon (he was 17 years old) couldn't stand watching the suffering and torment of his loved ones. So one night he left for the village of Zaritchka to meet a certain peasant named Petruk, and asked Petruk to give him his father's fur coat and other warm belongings that our father had hidden in his barn. Petruk told our brother to return the next morning. The next day when Shimon came for the items, Petruk shouted that he had captured a hidden Jew. The police, of course, arrived and arrested Shimon. Petruk was sure that he would get 500 marks and a bottle of vodka from the Germans as a reward.

        The German murderers beat Shimon mercilessly and forced him to reveal the location of the other hidden Jews. Seeing that his fate was already sealed, and he wouldn't escape the killers alive, our brother Shimon, like Samson of the Bible, said 'Let my soul die with the Philistines.' He decided to take revenge against Petruk through his death.

        Shimon 'admitted' that Petruk had hid him in his barn, and in order to convince the Germans, Shimon took them to the barn and showed them the possessions that had been hidden in the barn. The Germans arrested Petruk and his family of seven, and prepared seven gallows in the middle of the market. They gathered all the peasants of the area and hanged Petruk and his family. This was the end of the low life peasant thief who was after Jewish property. The German murderers took our brother Shimon somewhere and we never heard from him again.

        In hiding in the forest for approximately 14 months, the partisans discovered us and took us along with them. This is how we survived, and later, when the Red Army liberated us, we returned to Drohitchin. The peasants were amazed to see us alive again. We started crying from shame and pain, and didn't find a single Jew in Drohitchin.

        We couldn't remain in Drohitchin any longer because the peasants were all poisoned with Hitlerism and hatred of Jews. We left our beloved hometown forever, and went on our way until we arrived in the United States.” (See p. 183, Chaim Shulman. Editor).

Sarah Friedenberg, the heroic Jewish girl
This should be recorded as a memorial!

        While the Germans took the first half of the community to be massacred in the Brona-Gora Forest (near Bereza), twenty-five Jewish wagon drivers and their horses accompanied the Jewish victims. When the death train arrived in the Valley of Tears the German hangmen ordered the Jewish wagon drivers to graze their horses until the Germans completed their murders, and then return to town.

        The brave Jewish girl Sarah Friedenberg (daughter of Shlomo Friedenberg) stood on a wooden beam and yelled out to the Jewish wagon drivers: “Jewish brothers! How can you leave for home alone and allow us to be thrown into coal pits? Remember what you are doing! Your consciences will give you no peace your entire lives! Come with us! Let the Germans take the horses back to town themselves. Come with us and let's die together as heroes! (See pp. 280 photo of Sarah. D.W.) These 25 wagon drivers remained with the Jews sentenced to death and shared their fate. May G-d avenge their blood!

From Rachel Kravetz

[Page 317]

Chaya Reider (Canada)
[photo:] Chaya Reider

They tied Jews to horses and dragged them across the cobblestone pavement

        I was an eyewitness to the cruel murders of the Jews of Drohitchin at the hands of German killers. I saw how the German killers and their collaborators, Ukrainians, White Russians, etc. tore people away from their families and killed them. I bought my own life with money. For a time I worked in a rope factory opened by the Germans to provide rope for their armies. I worked there in order to fall into the death pits. I couldn't buy my husband with money, and he perished.

        I was born in Pinsk, a daughter of Burman. I arrived in Drohitchin for a visit with my cousins, the Mednitskys, who wouldn't let me return to Pinsk. In 1938 I got married to a young man from Drohitchin, Moshe Shinder, and hope to start a new life. However, my hopes ran out.

        In 1939 the war started, and the Poles took my husband to the front, where he was wounded. When he came home, the Soviets were already in Drohitchin, and the Soviets arrested many rich Jewish families, sending them deep into Russia. The exiles were very scared of the possibility that they would be sent to Siberia. Some Jewish families asked the Russian officials for an exemption, claiming to be poor Jews, and were able to remain at home. My husband and I, as well as our neighbors Liba Poretsky and her daughter Kraina, were exempted in a second survey. We were overjoyed to be able to remain in Drohitchin and not be sent to Siberia.

        On June 23, 1941, Hitler's airplanes appeared suddenly over Drohitchin, and death and fire started raining on the town. Rumors circulated that the Germans were murderers, and that they were hanging Jews everywhere. But no one wanted to believe it. All of us neighbors gathered in Liba Poretsky's house and started to think about the situation. Each one believed that the rumors that the Germans were bad were untrue.

        On June 27, a late Friday afternoon, the murderers showed up on their motorcycles. Nechemiah Zishuk was the first casualty. He happened to be in the garden when the Germans arrived, and they shot him immediately. The Germans soon issued an order requiring every person to register for daily work, and requiring that every Jewish home display a Star of David. A Judenrat was set up, and it had to provide food for the Germans. We understood that life would be risky and we would get used to suffering. However, the situation got increasingly worse.

        One early morning the Germans ordered the Jews to provide a few kilos of gold and a contribution of a hundred thousand rubles by the following morning. In the event the contribution were not provided on time, they would hang the rabbi of town, Rabbi Isaac Yaakov Kalenkovitch, may G-d avenge his blood. Confusion reigned in town, and each person provided whatever he had: wedding rings, earrings, watches, and even gold teeth were given away. We were thereby able to buy ourselves out of misfortune.

        Then there was a new decree: The Germans demanded that Jews who had taken positions with the Poles and Russian be turned in. As a result, ten Christians and eight Jews were arrested. The Germans stood these unfortunate people against a wall at

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